Pendant in the form of a ferret

Northern European

On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 520

The size of this jewel and related ones (see also 17.190.892; 17.190.893; 32.100.298; and 32.100.306) is such that only the closest viewer could appreciate their full beauty and dexterous execution; they represent the finest craftsmanship for the wealthiest patrons. Each combines gold with natural treasures, such as pearls and gemstones. Bulbous baroque pearls cleverly suggest the fluffy down of a swan’s underbelly or a cloudy mass supporting the Crucifixion. Tiny figures are enameled in the round. Melding the secular and the sacred, these jewels were made to be worn: pinned to garments or hanging close to their owners’ skin. The animals might be heraldic devices; the swan, for example, could symbolize the Society of the Virgin Mary, called the Order of the Swan, which was founded in mid-fifteenth-century Brandenburg in Germany.

[Elizabeth Cleland, 2017]

Pendant in the form of a ferret, Gold, partly enameled, set with rubies and diamonds; pearls, Northern European

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